When I mention a hike on the Smokey Hollow section of the Bruce Trail everyone always asks where is that. Yet this scenic part of the trail is only about a 45 minute drive from Toronto and is suitable for both families, groups and more experienced hikers.
I start from Kerncliffe Park on the edge of Burlington where is a former gravel pit with its own network of trails, a boardwalk through a marsh and cliffs draped with rock climbers every time I visit the area.
For our October hike we follow the main Bruce Trail into a golden hardwood forest with the black trunks standing in contrast, making an amazing picture. About a kilometer into the hike the trail splits. We follow the main trail (white blazes) outbound and the King Side Trail (blue blazes) on the return.
The main trail does give you one lookout spot of the Dundas Valley where you can see Lake Ontario, the Burlington Skyway and Hamilton in the distance.
For the next 4 km you continue to walk through a hardwood forest with the occasional rocky section but it is really quite flat. Expect to see joggers, people walking their dogs, and a few families as the town of Waterdown is quite near. Actually the trail brings you along a short section section of subdivision at one point. Then is a gentle descent bringing you to Mill Street and Smokey Hollow.
There is an observation deck to view the waterfalls at Smokey Hollow, site of a former mill. Rejoin the trail and carefully walk down a set of steps heading down to Grindstone Creek. From this point you get a terrific view of the falls along and can expect to see a few people taking pictures.
The next 2 kilometers or so is up and down short hills and stairways with Grindstone Creek cascading through the large boulders on your right. It does level off after a while but you are still walking along the creek and in hardwood forests.
The trail leaves the creek and heads uphill for a bit before returns to the creek and an wooden bridge. Across the creek you again head up a small rise as the trail follows the shores of a former pond, currently more of a marshland. The trees here are vivid orange, bright red with a few yellow colors as the autumn leaves are ablaze of color.
I usually follow the trail to the end of the marsh where there are some log to sit on for our lunch stop. Other hikers can continue up the hill before the trail turn left and arrives at Highway 6.
I return along the same route but you will not be disappointed as when walking up with Grindstone Creek on your left it takes on an entirely different look. One year we even saw hundreds of fish attempting to swim up the creek surprisingly in October.
Getting to the Trailhead
Take the QEW from Toronto and exit at Brant Street north. Then an immediate left turn on the North Service Road which you follow for 1 km, turn right on Kerns Road for 2.3 km to Kerncliffe Park where there is free parking.
The Bruce Trail is a 843 (524 mile) hiking route running from Niagara to Tobermory on Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada and crosses both public and private lands. The best time to visit is in early October. The Smokey Hollow trail route described is about 15 kilometers long.
Click the link for other hiking trails in the Toronto region.